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Merry Kinectmas: Kinect Review

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There I was climbing under the Christmas tree this morning, and feeling like a little kid. I had asked Santa to defy the odds and somehow get the elves in his workshop to bang out one more Kinect system for the Xbox 360, even if it meant violating some labor laws and turning it into a sweat shop. I didn’t care as long as I got my Kinect. It was a long shot, after all it’s the hottest toy/gadget this year and stores haven’t been able to keep them on the shelves since it was released in November.

But what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a package that looked roughly the size of what I had wanted, no coveted. Now, I wasn’t exactly nice this year, so I was hoping Santa was grading on a curve. As I ripped open the package, sure enough, there it was a Kinect sensor.

I’ll spare you the Christmas freakout moment that followed as I immediately ran up the stairs to hook it up. It was fairly simple to connect the Kinnect, but my Christmas impatience grew weary as I had to stand there and let the system scan my body for configuration. But I figured it could have been worse, I could have been at the airport.

After configuration, I waved my hand to start my first game of Kinect adventures which comes with the system (It was very Obi Wan like-”These are not the droids you’re looking for”). 

Rally ball was the first challenge, it’s a combination of handball and playing soccer goalie. Wish I would have stretched, because I wasn’t prepared for all the leg movement and the groin was tensing. The next game was some sort of riverboat challenge where you slide back and forth to collect coins and jump to get the raft really moving.

Another adventure had you plugging holes in the deep blue sea as fish attacked your container. At times the game was clunky, as I reached back to plug holes in the wall of my digital dive tank, I quickly realized that you need a lot of open space to play these games. The last adventure I played this morning, had me waving my arms to fly as I popped bubbles for more points. It was fun, but I can see Kinnect Adventures growing tired quickly. Overall, the game really got the heart moving, but I’m not about to cancel my gym membership.

The graphics are a big improvement over the Wii system. I never was a fan of the cartoonish graphics on Wii. With all the advances made in video games, you’d think they could have invested a little more time on creating realism.  I want to be submersed in a game and escape reality (My shrink may beg to differ). So it was really intense not using any sort of controller and seeing my avatar move with me. I really felt a part of the action.

Perhaps the most amusing part of the game system is the pictures it takes of you in action, which you can even upload and share. Really, though there’s no reason I need to show these pics. They’re actually quite embarrassing. There’s also some voice recogniton software built in, but I haven’t had a chance to explore that yet.

As the technology improves, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re just a few short years away from a Minority Report UI system (Actually playing the Kinect is a lot more fun than watching a Tom Cruise Movie), or some sort of virtual Matrix world. That may be scary for some, but plug me in. I’m still blown away by the leaps made in technology in the last 10 years. And I can’t wait to try some of the other Kinect games and where the system will take us in the future (perhaps to the future).

The dance games look like fun, but I’m a sports guy and I can’t wait to try Kinnect Sports and the EA Sports Active. And the Sonic game has some real potential for fun. Looks like I’ll be using grandma’s gift money on games again this year. Thanks grammy.

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